A year’s worth of contraception

Fran Pavley

Fran Pavley

The monthly trek to the pharmacy could be a thing of the past if Sen. Fran Pavley’s bill is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The bill, SB 999, would require public and private health plans to cover the dispensation of hormonal birth control for a period of up to 12 months, which would eliminate the need to obtain a refill every 30 to 90 days.

Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, says that providing year-round access to birth control would alleviate the burden of scheduling appointments and reduce unintended pregnancies.

“Women who are working, raising families or attending college — and, sometimes, a combination of all three — can’t always find time to run off to a drug store to refill an ongoing prescription,” said Pavley in a statement. “This change will make their lives easier and dramatically reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy.”

The bill would allow doctors to prescribe pills, patches or rings for up to 12 months. Current law requires insurers to cover contraceptives; the change would allow the contraceptives to be dispensed in larger quantities.

The bill passed the California Senate by a 30-6 vote. Brown has until Sept. 30, the end of the two-year session, to act on the bill.

Showers for homeless students

Das Williams

Das Williams

Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, has authored a bill that he says is close to his heart. Assembly Bill 1995 would require California Community College campuses to allow homeless students who are enrolled in coursework, have paid tuition fees and are in good standing with the community college district to take showers on campus, should it be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Williams, once homeless himself while attending college, says that students are less likely to attend class if they feel insecure about their personal hygiene.

“I was once homeless while attending community college, so I personally know what it feels like to be desperate for a shower before attending classes,” said Williams.

Current law denies students access to campus showers if they are not enrolled in a physical education class. Data collected from the 2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) shows that there are 58,000 homeless students nationwide, a number that has increased by 11,000 since 2009.

Williams says that his bill removes the barrier for a “vulnerable population” and that it may reduce dropout rates.

Parent leave bill heads to governor

Hannah-Beth Jackson

Hannah-Beth Jackson

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, can claim victory after her Senate Bill 654, which provides six weeks of unpaid maternity and paternity leave for employees of companies with 20-49 employees, passed off the floor of the Senate by a 24-12 vote, and the Assembly by a 65-17 vote, and is now waiting for Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval.

Current law only provides protected leave for those working in companies with 50 or more employees. The bill allows employees to access the Paid Family Leave program, which provides six weeks of partial wage replacement for caregiving responsibilities through the State Disability Insurance program.

“We live in a world today where both men and women are in the workforce, and both need the opportunity to care for a newborn while being able to return to a job when that leave is done,” said Jackson. “I believe that employees who are able to take this leave will be loyal employees, better parents, and our children will have a stronger and more supported start.”

Jackson, who is chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, says that the bill will give protection to up to 2.7 million Californians while impacting just 6 percent of California’s businesses.

But Jackson has had to make concessions. Originally, the bill provided up to 12 weeks of leave and included businesses with 10 to 49 employees. The bill would take effect on Jan. 1, 2018, should it be signed into law.